The O writer and author of the book Someone Will Be with You Shortly shares her thrive guide to life after 50.
I watched the moon landing, the Watergate hearings and the first episode of Saturday Night Live—from a faux-leather beanbag chair in our wood-paneled family room. I owned hot pants, I ate Pop Rocks, I read Go Ask Alice. I had a major crush on Cat Stevens, a God-awful perm and a deep desire to leave the suburbs. I mention these things to prove that I've got a few miles on me. But—and I'm going to have to quote "My Back Pages" here, because on top of everything else, I worshiped Bob Dylan—"I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now." You see, the good thing about being 52 is that you learn a few things about what you can do to turn back time, or at least slow it down a bit.
1. Two words: age appropriate. The only fashion statement a fiftysomething wearing Hello Kitty makes is, "I am desperate to relive the glorious triumph that was Mindy Eisenbach's 7th grade pizza party."
2. Repeat after me. Fish oil and flax seeds, good. Bacon and Red Bull, bad.
3. Find a dog who desperately needs a good home, and give it to him. Pets lower blood pressure, force you to take long walks 37,000 times a day, and pull you out of the narcissism of your me-monkey little life. Bonus: You'll be too busy checking your new roommate for heartworm to check your old thighs for spider veins.
4. Woe to the woman who does not take each and every vacation day she is entitled to. There is no excuse for sitting at your desk when there are a hammock and an umbrella drink out there with your name on them.
5. A vampire facelift does not make you look younger, it makes you look weirder. You're far better off saying, "I feel bad about my neck" and turning that feeling into a brilliant best-seller than having yourself injected with platelet-enriched blood from some other part of your body that has yet to sag. Unable to embrace your inner Ephron? Here's a thought: Buy a scarf.
7. And in your waking hours, try to have sex. I know, I know, we work, we raise families, we attend Lululemon mega sample sales—there's not a lot left over at the end of a high-stress day. But it doesn't have to be the rip-off-my-lace-panties-with-your-teeth-and-ravage-me-on-high-thread-count-sheets kind of sex. Nobody needs to pretend they're part of Cirque du Soleil, for God's sake. Just floss, spend the $7.99 on Hulu Plus (to watch Stephen Colbert at your leisure), and shoot for something in vanilla.
8. Fact: You're going to get laugh lines. Make sure a few of them actually come from laughing.
9. Money can't buy you love, but it can buy you an excellent therapist/masseuse/colorist, who can in turn help you through the stuff that weighs you down/knots you up/turns you gray. If you can't afford a session with the shrink, at least consider a session with John Frieda, LCSW.
10. Two more words: dimmer switch.
11. Consider the poet Mary Oliver's brilliant advice: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. Maybe more than anything else, having a passion that goes the distance is the key to staying young.